The New Jersey Supreme Court recently held that the Superior Court of New Jersey has concurrent jurisdiction with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation to adjudicate a worker’s employment status for purposes of assessing the applicability of the exclusive remedy provision of New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act. In Estate of Kotsovska v. Liebman (A-89, June 11, 2015), the plaintiff argued that the decedent was an independent contractor, rendering the exclusivity bar inapplicable and permitting the Superior Court to retain jurisdiction over her personal injury suit. The court ruled that when there is a genuine dispute regarding a worker’s employment status, and the plaintiff files a complaint in the Superior Court only, that court has jurisdiction to resolve the dispute and is not required to transfer the matter to the Division of Workers’ Compensation if the exclusivity bar is raised as an affirmative defense.
On December 3, 2012, a bill (A2162) was sent to Governor Chris Christie seeking to increase the New Jersey minimum wage rate from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour effective on March 1, 2013. The bill also calls for automatic future annual adjustments linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If enacted, New Jersey would have the third highest state minimum wage rate in the country. (See the June 2012 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority for prior discussion of the bill.)
On January 12, 2018, the Maryland General Assembly overrode Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s May 25, 2017 veto of legislation requiring Maryland employers to provide sick and safe leave to their employees. By overriding the governor’s veto, the general assembly made Maryland the ninth state to adopt a mandatory sick leave statute. Maryland’s legislation, known as the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, provides employees with up to 40 hours of sick and safe leave annually.
On May 3, 2016, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law a “ban the box” statute, which will take effect on July 1, 2017. The law will prohibit covered employers from inquiring about information pertaining to an individual’s criminal history record on an initial employment application. The law does, however, allow an employer to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history record (i) during a job interview or (ii) once the applicant has been deemed otherwise qualified for the position.